So your company has an amazing event on the horizon and the decision has been made to stream it live to distant employees, vendors and customers.
Now what? You can assign someone internally to cover it with their iPhone or toss it on the pile of responsibilities for the A/V and staging team, but audience recordings hardly ever deliver an impact. We all know what footage looks (and sounds) like when fans film at a concert and the first priority for a/v support is what is happening in the room. Everything is designed for the in-room experience (as it should be) and how to best convey messages to that audience. The job of your webcast team should be to gather all of this information and develop a plan to translate the most relevant material to the viewers who are watching live from around the globe.
Here’s an example. The cameras used to film the event can also feed the live stream but there are times the show director needs to control them for specific shots like room IMAG (image magnification). It’s a good idea to have at least one camera setup specifically for the stream to guarantee the online audience is always present. We always will send the feed to the house in case they want to use it, but its main purpose on site is to provide an added angle or audience shot for the stream. Your online audience wants to experience the things that might have been improvised or unexpected. It might be obvious to the house audience but easy to miss if the cameras are focused elsewhere or you’re relying on slides to tell the story. In a nutshell, the program cut for the stream shouldn’t match exactly what is being projected in the room. Those screens only tell a part of the story. The webcast team and the event crew should work together with the same goal, however, the path to get there may take a different direction at times. If you want to create a true user experience, a webcast producer, who is solely focused on your digital audience, is critical.
Here are 5 things your webcast producer should help you deliver:
1. Develop Broadcast Goals
The best way to decide where your live event should be hosted is to work backwards from your target audience. If you are hosting a public event that is open to anyone, then streaming to Facebook or Youtube can be the most cost effective (you won’t pay for viewer bandwidth) and reach a very wide audience. If it’s a private event that is only intended for a select audience like employees or shareholders, you will want to setup a secure broadcast. For clients that have regularly scheduled meetings and events, we create a custom subdomain (yourcompany.fuelstream.live) and serve it through a private CDN. Event webcasts can be in one location and archived events can be easily found using the same link and password as viewers used to previously access the live event. Other elements you may need, such as audience registration, pay-per-view, simultaneous broadcast to multiple channels or advertising requirements, will help determine your best course of action. Have a conversation with your webcast producer during the event planning stage and ask what the recommended options are based on your goals and criteria.
2. Audience Engagement Plan
Go through your content and find opportunities for the speakers to gather live feedback such as audience polls. Think beyond just a Q & A wrap up following a presentation. Applications like Slido and Eventmobi make it easy for audience members and online viewers to engage with your presenters and provide a clean, easy to read interface for the info coming back. The more popular questions are pushed to the top through viewer rankings so the presenter can target the topics that are the most relevant to the audience. The app can be embedded with the video window on the viewer page or accessed through a mobile phone. It works best to elect someone internally from your organization to monitor the questions that come through and tag the relevant ones. They can be quickly trained to use the software and are most familiar with the content being presented.
3. Be Creative
The best streams are achieved through a blend of technology and creativity. Camera frame rates and computer scan rates can differ and sometimes need to be converted so that you are streaming a unified signal. Location IT teams often need to be consulted in order to get the best link to the outside world. A dedicated connection separate from the public wifi is critical as even the fastest wireless connections can cause problems at the worst times. Once everything is locked in and tested, your show becomes a live edit. Shots, graphics and transitions are chosen to give the remote viewing audience the best possible viewing experience. This is the major difference between a simple webinar and a live streamed event. A webinar consists of low quality audio, screen sharing and maybe a webcam. A well streamed event should pull the viewer into the room.
4. Play It Again
Once the show is wrapped you are holding onto some great content that you can repurpose for social media and on-demand video marketing. Hiring a streaming company with post-production capabilities allows you to edit your key messaging without starting back at step one. If you are setup to bring this stage in-house, then the team you hire should provide you with a program cut in high resolution and compressed formats as well as individual camera recordings if you require them. These delivery details are also questions asked prior to the event so there shouldn’t any surprises or missing elements. Short content clips with special guests and audience feedback can all be combined to have people marking their calendars for the next event!
5. Use the Data
Data speaks volumes to the success of your stream. Total number of viewers, mobile versus desktop, geographical location, and the peak viewing times is information you should be handed within a day or two, once your event is wrapped. Tapping into the relevant data is what is key. All of this information should be provided to you but it’s a good idea to discuss in advance what you can expect for analytical data once the event is over.
It’s not exactly !!BREAKING NEWS!! at this point that live streaming video is a growing communication channel and becoming an important marketing and distribution tool for brands. Companies are connecting directly with consumers for product launches, influencer interviews, support and training but it’s a perfect way to connect employees as well. For larger companies, getting the entire group together in one city is nearly impossible, never mind a single event hall. Live streaming gets information to everyone at the same time, gives every employee a voice and allows each person to feel like they are a part of the big picture. Whatever the target audience, it expands the physical audience and creates a widespread global community. If you’re still on the fence about taking your next meeting live, consider these advantages:
Live video allows B2C marketers to interact with their audience in real time and encourages feedback. It allows consumers to engage with a brand on a personal level. Product launches and demos are expected and companies like Apple have made them appointment events. B2B and internal communications are utilizing live streaming for training, conferences, company announcements and routine Town Hall style updates. These events can be open to the public or a closed, private event for employees only. Remember the days of “someone will be coming around with a microphone if you have any questions”? Incorporating viewer apps and utilities like Slido.com add to the interactive experience and allow viewers to engage in live polls and ranked Q&A where the more popular questions are pushed to the top for presenters to answer. No asking for a show of hands so feedback comes freely and the relevant concerns are pushed to the front.
2. Engage Your Audience
80% of adults would rather watch a live stream than read a blog or a memo. ‘Live’ has a feeling of importance and urgency. Being a part of the conversation and providing input as the ideas and questions come to you is a game changer thanks to today’s technology. It’s the feeling that you’re getting your information directly from the source even when you can’t be in the room. More and more employees are working remotely, Town Hall Meetings have become common so that senior management can discuss company strategy and important announcements with everyone as a team. With HTML5 streaming, your broadcast is available on desktop systems, tablets, gaming systems, Roku, Apple TV, and mobile devices. Viewers can watch from almost anywhere at any time.
3. Tease Future Events
People can’t attend conferences for a number of reasons. Maybe there’s a scheduling conflict or they aren’t sure there will be a ROI for their time and cost. Streaming a sample of your content so that viewers can get an idea of attendance, networking opportunities and the quality of the information will go a long way in increasing your target audience for future events. A keynote speaker, an expert panel discussion or maybe specific product demos are all just a taste of the big picture that could lead to more loyal attendees. You will also have the added value of rich analytics from the streaming audience for future marketing.
Live video is imperfect…and that’s a good thing! Seeing the little mistakes or less-than-perfect moments in a live broadcast is all part of the good stuff. Don’t confuse this with being unprepared and delivering a boring presentation. It’s minor interactions that aren’t expected that everyone can laugh about. It’s about informing and inspiring an audience and not about being perfect. Live video is full transparency into a brand or a CEO and it builds a community bond. It builds trust. And it’s something you can’t get from a flawless marketing video.
Streaming is still growing and it will be interesting to see what 2018 brings. Consumers are definitely all-in and now brands seem to be following. Forbes recently wrote on the revolution of video in the coming months: